We told everyone that this time around, we would be doing Christmas in our pajamas, and we did. No suitcases, no schedules, not even snapshots to commemorate the thing. We spent the holiday drawn in tightly to our little family nucleus, and when a Yuletide virus stopped by to knock the four of us out of commission, we simply paused the carols and curled up for a nap. It was as low-key as you can get.
And still still still, despite our PJs-and-leftovers approach to Christmas, the season managed to flatten me as surely as a wrecking ball. This happens every year. I imagine us strolling through a December as serene as the lyrics to Silent Night, our faces reflecting the twinkle of simple delights. After a Christmas of grand surprises and Norman Rockwell reenactments, we’d settle back with our eggnog to watch the snow fall and our children play jacks until the new year chimes in, inviting us to skip down new avenues of creativity and possibility with all those fresh reserves of energy. I imagine REST as the defining characteristic of our holiday.
Of course, my daydream version of December is 97% dependent on house elves while the other 3% is up to the weather.
Real December has a knack for turning joyful occasions into deadlines and togetherness into a theater production. At least it does for me. No matter how committed I am to slowing down and savoring the holidays, most spare moments still find me scrambling to finish the backdrops and props of traditional merriness while our budget burrows a hole under the fence. Some of that I’m sure is due to my being The Mom, which is shorthand for Santa-Claus-party-hostess-errandboy-housecleaner-magic-experience-coordinator-pixie, while the other part is that I’m terrible at letting go of expectations (mine + others’ + ones that I attribute to others whether or not that impression is accurate). I’m so afraid of disappointing anyone that I run myself into the ground preparing for events that I’m then too worn out to enjoy. Really, REST ends up being the opposite characteristic of my holiday, so it’s no big surprise that I tend to start January with an emotional hangover.
I’m not writing this to complain about our Christmas but rather to notice and remember—to acknowledge the patterns that end up depleting me and to tack my observations up on the doors of future Decembers. It’s only now that I really can begin to notice, with the girls back in school and house renovations wrapping up (what timing, eh?) and all the upheaval and rush and too-late nights of the past month gradually losing their grip on the present. Self-care can now get a word in edgewise, and I’m relieved to be getting back to myself. I love the sparkle of Christmas, but I also love the slow glow of a nourished heart. Here’s hoping that next year, I’ll finally find a way to combine the two.
How were your holidays?